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Darden Restaurants, Inc.

Darden Restaurants, Inc.
Orlando-based Darden Restaurants is considered the world's largest casual dining restaurant company in terms of market share and annual sales. Restaurant entrepreneur Bill Darden, who opened the first Red Lobster restaurant in Lakeland in 1968, founded the company. Darden is considered one of the pioneers in the development of full-service chain restaurants in the United States.

Since its founding, it has grown to operate more than 1,700 restaurants in North America with about 170,000 employees. Darden was a subsidiary of General Mills from 1970 until 1995, when it was spun off as a separately held publicly traded company. The company's headquarters was moved to Orlando when it beca...
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Orlando-based Darden Restaurants is considered the world's largest casual dining restaurant company in terms of market share and annual sales. Restaurant entrepreneur Bill Darden, who opened the first Red Lobster restaurant in Lakeland in 1968, founded the company. Darden is considered one of the pioneers in the development of full-service chain restaurants in the United States.

Since its founding, it has grown to operate more than 1,700 restaurants in North America with about 170,000 employees. Darden was a subsidiary of General Mills from 1970 until 1995, when it was spun off as a separately held publicly traded company. The company's headquarters was moved to Orlando when it became a division of General Mills.

Darden is most closely associated with its two largest restaurant brands: Red Lobster and Olive Garden. Both of those chains now have more than 600 locations. The company's attempt to diversify its restaurant holdings has had mixed results. In 1995, Darden shut down an internally developed Chinese restaurant chain called China Coast. Since its spin-off, Darden has also created a barbecue and sports bar-themed restaurant group called Smokey Bones, a Caribbean-themed chain called Bahama Breeze, and a higher-end group of restaurants called Seasons 52. The company announced its intention to sell its Smokey Bones restaurants in May 2007, admitting that the brand did not have the potential to become a national chain. In August, Darden agreed to purchase Rare Hospitality International, which operates the LongHorn Steakhouse and Capital Grille restaurant chains, for an estimated value of $1.4 billion.

Clarence Otis, who took over the company from long-time chief Joe Lee in 2005, serves as chairman and chief executive officer. Darden posted $5.6 billion in annual sales in fiscal year 2007. Its shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol DRI.
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Top Darden Restaurants, Inc. Articles

Displaying items 12-22
  • Darden sales improve ahead of proxy showdown

     Darden sales improve ahead of proxy showdown
    Same restaurant sales at Darden's flagship chain Olive Garden rose 0.6 percent in September compared with the last year, giving the company positive news as it heads into a crucial shareholder meeting next week. In a rare move, Darden Restaurants Inc. on...
  • Darden sales improve ahead of proxy showdown

    ORLANDO, Fla. Same restaurant sales at Darden's flagship chain Olive Garden rose 0.6 percent in September compared with the last year, giving the company positive news as it heads into a crucial shareholder meeting next week. In a rare move, Darden...
  • Breadsticks, Mallard Fillmore, and King: Letters

    Breadstick war heats up Bullying comes in many forms, and as we follow the Darden Restaurants-Starboard Value conflict, it would appear Starboard Value hedge fund is trying to bully Darden into changing how it runs its business. Olive Garden has...
  • 4 good business stories: Real estate, layoffs, Disney, Darden

    4 good business stories: Real estate, layoffs, Disney, Darden
    Today is one of those days when the Sentinel is chock full of excellent business journalism from my colleagues. Leading off is Mary Shanklin’s front page update on numbers and the story behind international buyers dropping cash on Central...
  • Activist investors: Hands off America's piles of free carbs!

    I joke around quite a bit in this space, but today I address the greatest threat America is facing: a reduction in the number of free breadsticks served at Olive Garden restaurants. A group of "activist investors" -- the worst kind of investors in my...
  • Shareholder group sues Darden over Red Lobster sale

     Shareholder group sues Darden over Red Lobster sale
    Darden Restaurants is facing a second lawsuit from a Teamsters shareholder group in Connecticut over the controversial sale of Red Lobster in July. The new suit, filed on behalf of Teamsters Local 443 Health Services and Insurance Plan in Connecticut,...
  • First Chicago Olive Garden opening next week

    First Chicago Olive Garden opening next week
    Olive Garden will open its first restaurant in Chicago later this month, featuring its new logo and remodel design — and, of course, free salad and breadsticks. The 7,780-square-foot restaurant at 3555 West Addison St., the first in the Chicago...
  • Firms squabble over control of Darden board

    Firms squabble over control of Darden board
    Glass Lewis Inc., a noted Wall Street proxy fight advisory firm, says Darden Restaurants shareholders should vote to replace the entire board of directors with picks from activist Starboard Value. But another advisory firm, Egan-Jones Proxy Services,...
  • Revenge of the breadsticks? Darden strikes back

    Revenge of the breadsticks? Darden strikes back
    Darden Restaurants made a formal response Monday to investor criticisms of its Olive Garden chain. The investor, Starboard Value hedge fund, on Friday released a 294-page plan that criticized waste, overspending and Darden employment policies. The...
  • Olive Garden defends unlimited breadsticks policy as 'Italian generosity'

    Olive Garden defends unlimited breadsticks policy as 'Italian generosity'
    Olive Garden thinks you can never have enough warm breadsticks. The restaurant chain's parent company, Darden Restaurants, prepared a presentation in which it defends its unlimited breadsticks policy and other practices criticized in a report by...
  • Darden posts loss as Olive Garden same-restaurant sales fall again

    Darden posts loss as Olive Garden same-restaurant sales fall again
    Darden Restaurants Inc. reported a quarterly loss after same-restaurant sales fell again at its Olive Garden chain, which contributes about two-thirds to profit. Darden reported a net loss of $19.3 million, or 14 cents per share, from continuing...